Due to COVID-19, my school (as well as most other schools) switched to online learning. As someone who had only ever taken a couple of online classes, I have struggled to get through the second half of the semester. I was surrounded by distractions that made it hard to focus. Just when I had gotten into a ‘quarantine routine’ I realized that the semester was winding down and that finals were approaching. So, I thought that I would share some of my tips to conquer these online finals!
- Create a Studious Environment
The first and probably the most important tip is to create a studious environment. The main reason I found myself struggling, was because of my environment. I am currently living with my family, which is something I haven’t done since high school. Not only am I working from home, but so are my parents, so we’ve had to divvy up our house into office spaces. I recommend finding YOUR space in your house where you can spread out and focus.
If your “office space” happens to be your bedroom (like mine) you may find it hard to focus. I’m not one to do work in my bedroom even when I am at school because I know I will get distracted. When I’m at school, my study spot is at a table at Starbucks. I love the smells, I love the music, and it’s a place I can sit and just crank out all of my assignments. To trick my brain into getting work done, I have created a corner in my room that imitates a coffee shop. Every morning I make myself a cup of coffee (for the smell), I turn on a coffee shop playlist on Youtube or Spotify (for the music), and I sit at my chair and get assignments done. Do whatever you can (move furniture around, light a candle, create a study playlist, make your favorite study snack, etc.) to help imitate your ideal study spot from school at home.
2. Make a List of Every Assignment Left in the Semester
My second tip is to create a list of everything standing between you and the end of the semester. Write every project, homework assignment, test, discussion post, etc. from every one of your classes down on a piece of paper and double-check to make sure there is nothing that you missed. Although the list may seem intimidating at first, it can help you see how much (or how little) there is to finish this semester. For me, nothing feels better than crossing off something on my list. Hopefully, this list will motivate you to finish these assignments. If it doesn’t motivate you, don’t fret! At least now you can feel a little more organized with your courses.
3. Get Small Assignments Out of the Way
If you are really struggling to get started on your classwork, I suggest starting with the small assignments first. If your online classes are like mine, there are always those “busy-work” assignments to prove that you are participating. Go ahead and comment on your classmate’s discussion posts, send in that attendance assignment, or take that reading quiz. These small assignments add up, you’ll be amazed at how many assignments you can cross off your list in just a couple hours. Doing something is better than doing nothing, so start small and build momentum to do more challenging projects later!
4. Make A Schedule
The nice thing about quarantine is that you can really be flexible when you want to do your classwork. But, that also means that you can forget to dedicate time to your classwork. Your schedule doesn’t have to be down to the minute, or even down to the hour, but having an idea of when you want to work on things will help you stay on track. I personally have my “school time” between 12pm and 5pm Mondays through Thursdays. This allows me to sleep in and relax in the morning and have free time in the evenings. It also allows me time to wake up a little bit before starting my workday. My biggest advice with this tip is to listen to your body’s schedule. If you’re someone who focuses better in the evening, by all means, make your “school time” in the evenings! You know when you are most energized and focused, use that energy for your work.
5. Study Away From the Screen
I have been using screens more now than ever, and I have never been so exhausted. Between online school, meetings, social media, movies, and more I can physically feel my eyes straining. Not only do my eyes hurt, but it is also affecting my sleep. If you can, try and do work away from the screen. Try writing your paper in a notebook and then typing it out later, writing out your notes instead of typing them, or creating flashcards instead of using Quizlet.
Staying away from screens also means setting your phone away from your workspace so that you don’t grab it and get distracted. By doing this, I have noticed that it is much easier for me to dedicate time to my schoolwork. I have fewer headaches because of my eyes and I have fewer distractions like notifications on my laptop.
6. Schedule in Time to Take Breaks
Last, but certainly not least, TAKE BREAKS. There is so much going on right now and it is not practical to spend every moment preparing for finals. Personally, I like to take breaks after I finish something or have been working on it for a while. If I finish a small assignment, I will give myself a 15-minute break to scroll through social media or watch a youtube video. If I finish a large assignment I may give myself 45 minutes to an hour to watch an episode of a show. Before starting on an assignment tell yourself, “If you get this done, you can have a break.” But, make sure that you set a timer before going on your break… a 15-minute Youtube break can easily turn into an hour-long break if you’re not careful. If you are working on large projects or studying, I recommend setting a timer for an hour and then working until it goes off before taking a break!
I hope you all enjoyed my online study tips, I am wishing you all the best of luck on your finals in the next few weeks! Be kind to yourself while you are working, with all that is going on it is ok to not have the best grades this semester. If you are really worried about your finals, seek help from your professors!
Remember to stay safe, stay healthy, and STAY HOME. Was there a tip that stuck out to you the most? Do you have any additional tips? Let me know!